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Tata Steel to seek Government help to save Corus jobs

Indias largest steel maker Tata Steel is seeking Government assistance in the UK and the Netherlands to help cut working hours at its Corus subsidiary as the group tries to cope with the economic downturn.

Tata Steels finance director, Kaushik Chatterjee, said the company would save £100 million this year from rationalisation in the UK and Europe, including a reduction in working hours, according to a report in the Financial Times (December 3).

The FT says Corus is planning to cut 400 jobs at its steel distribution business and close blast furnaces at Scunthorpe and Port Talbot in March. However, a Corus spokesman refused to comment on these reports.

The group is also planning to cut staff hours in the Netherlands. Corus chief executive Philippe Varin said: According to the Dutch regulations, we can access some Government support if we have [people temporarily] out of a job.

We are seeking from the UK Government some similar support because in Europe, the UK is probably one of the only countries where there is no such mechanism in place.

Varin said that under the scheme the company would agree not to fire workers but to keep them at home in exchange for Government funding to help pay for the lay-offs.

In 2006 Tata Steel acquired the Anglo-Dutch firm Corus for £6.7 billion.

Coruss Government-funded work reduction scheme is part of a $7.6 billion package announced last week to boost the Dutch economy. If the scheme is approved, Corus workers in the Netherlands would be paid 70% of their salaries through unemployment benefits while a further 30% would be paid by the firm for a period of six weeks, according to Dutch news agency ANP.

Image: Corus steel bales

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